Techne Congress
27 June, 12.15-13.30
University of Brighton (room tbc)
‘The Politics of Representation: War Commemoration, Identity, and Belonging’ (12.15-13.30, 27 June, Room TBC)

Kristin O’Donnell in conversation with John Siblon with extended Q&A

This session will interrogate the politics of representation through the lens of war commemoration, drawing on both historical and contemporary contexts. It is widely recognised that the commemoration of historical events is highly contingent on contemporary concerns. However, present-day commemorative practices have their roots in racialised hierarchies of remembrance.  As such, ‘a politics of commemoration’ is at play in the shaping and administration of war memory. This ‘in-conversation’ style session will use the First World War as a case study to examine wider issues surrounding politics of memory. The discussion will conclude with an extended Q&A.
Speaker Bios:
John Siblon is a History Teacher in London who has conducted doctoral research on hierarchy and the representation of African and Caribbean colonial servicemen in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. He has campaigned for a more inclusive History curriculum, and was a member of the Race, Equality & Ethnicity Working Group for the Royal Historical Society. He has published work on aspects of black British history pre-1850, Caribbean soldiers on the Western Front, the commemoration of African and Caribbean service personnel in the metropole, the lack of black statuary, and work on identity.

Kristin O’Donnell is a cultural historian and lecturer in History and Applied Humanities at Newman University Birmingham. Kristin’s research asks what the engagement with historical narratives through the arts in the present can reveal about the politics of commemoration. This research explores the way individuals, artists, and the nation-state use the past to inform a sense of present-day identity, constructing boundaries of belonging, which are structured by class, gender, and ethnicity. Kristin also works to widen access to university education, and has published on the impact of gender, ethnicity, class, and education on feelings of identity and belonging.